Housing Act of 1937

Housing Act of 1937

The Housing Act of 1937, aka the Wagner-Steagall Act, provided for subsidies to be paid from the U.S. government to local public housing agencies (PHA's) to improve living conditions for low-income families.

The act builds on the National Housing Act of 1934, which created the Federal Housing Administration. Both the 1934 Act and the 1937 Act were influenced by American housing reformers of the period, with Catherine Bauer chief among them. Bauer drafted much of this legislation and served as a Director in the United States Housing Authority, the agency created by the 1937 Act to control the payment of subsidies, for two years.

The sponsoring legislators were Representative Henry B. Steagall, Democrat of Alabama, and Senator Robert F. Wagner, Democrat of New York.

Although immediately controversial the Act has since remained in place, in amended form. The Housing Act of 1949 during the Truman administration set national goals for decent living environments and funded "slum clearance". The Housing Act of 1954 created the urban renewal program. In 1965 the Public Housing Administration, the U.S. Housing Authority, and the House and Home Financing Agency were all swept into the newly formed United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).


* From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors, by Lawrence J. Vale

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